Taking a moment to reflect

By | August 24, 2016

time-to-reflectSo often in life we rush from one event to the next, stress over the latest project that needs to be done, or wonder how we’ll get everyone to where they need to be.

In our always moving, always on lives it’s important to take a moment and reflect on where we are, where we’re going, and where we’ve been. On some of my other blogs I’ve written I would include statistics, SMART goals for the upcoming year, and similar items – after all if you don’t set a goal and track to it you’ll never get there.

I’m not going to do that here.

Today is a day for me to reflect on things. It’s been a year since I started writing here kicking things off while honoring the past. On the whole the year has been a good one. I’ve written a number of posts and some even were commented on. I’ve also grown a twitter and facebook following with some fantastic folks who I message with regularly.

It hasn’t been all good though. I did have a stretch of time when I didn’t write and post here. I also a spent few nights (ok, more than a few) researching methods to market this blog and grow the readership – something I stopped when I realized I didn’t need to if I just wrote and shared.

I also had to deal with more personal tragedy this year as my mother passed away. It was a big blow not just to me and my siblings but also to the larger family, something that we’re still sorting the emotions on.

As I sit here in a waiting room with my wife in surgery I’m given a chance to not just reflect but also to look forward to the year ahead.

I’ve already started to get the wheels turning with ideas for blog posts again and made a commitment to myself, that I’m now echoing here, not to get sucked into all the marketing hype again. I’m looking forward to serving as an officer in my Lodge again. Finally, I’m looking forward to spending time with the kids and have already set plans in motion for a family vacation – one that we all truly need.

I'm pictured here (right) with my father, Wor. Peter Newbury (left), at my Installation as Master in 2009.

I’m pictured here (right) with my father, Wor. Peter Newbury (left), at my Installation as Master in 2009.

Lastly, I just want to say thanks again to the man who served as mentor, friend, and father to me, Peter Newbury. You may recall that I started this blog on the anniversary of his passing, today marks five years since his passing. I hope he’s had a chance to look things over here at the site and that he approves. I know that I always look to him for guidance, even now, when things get a bit sticky or challenging.

Thanks Dad.

New Chief Executive appointed for Freemason Victoria

By | August 19, 2016

There are a lot of things that I truly enjoy about Freemasonry and one of them is the differences that exist within the fraternity. We often see them exist at the local level as we travel (and you should be traveling) but there are a great deal of other differences that can be seen if you look a bit further.

(ABC News: Gloria Kalache)

(ABC News: Gloria Kalache)

Take for instance our Brothers in Australia. An article posted today by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation announced that Freemason Victoria had appointed a new chief executive, Ms. Jane Sydenham-Clarke. Ms. Sydenham-Clarke is the first woman to be appointed to the post in 127 years – kudos to her. The article further stated that Ms. Sydenham-Clarke’s father was a Freemason and that she mentioned that she enjoyed getting to know the great men involved and was, “looking forward to working with the fraternity as a whole to build on the other fantastic work that’s been done to date and also to take Freemasons Victoria into the future.

I think it’s a really great thing to see this type of move being done by the fraternity. While Ms. Sydenham-Clarke isn’t a member of the fraternity and can’t attend tiled meetings, having her as CEO will hopefully allow Freemason Victoria to be more in tune with the larger community.

The second item to take away, and this if more for my American Brethren, is the fact that Freemason Victoria has a business organization to support the fraternity. I know that many Lodges, from the Grand Lodge to the local level, also operate as a business. It might be worthwhile to take a look at how things are done in Australia and see if something similar should be done here. Would it be such a bad thing to have a separate organization that is focused on outreach, strategic planning, and governance?

It is definitely something to think about.

You can read the full news piece at: http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-08-19/freemasons-victoria-appoints-female-chief-executive/7767358

To read more about Freemason Victoria, check out their site at: http://www.freemasonsvic.net.au/

The Successful Lodge – A Review

By | August 12, 2016

A common theme in the book - communicate.This week I took my own advice, hit the books and finished a recent addition to my library, The Successful Lodge: Best Practices in Freemasonry.

The book is an interesting read. It’s not a “cookbook” of practices that will make your Lodge successful. Instead this book presents the viewpoints of 70 different members of the Fraternity on what they feel would make a successful Lodge. While there were quite a few different thoughts on what makes a Lodge successful there was one major theme that ran throughout – communication.

I’ve written about the need to communicate over informing and this sentiment was echoed in the text. There is a consensus that in order for a Lodge to succeed it needs to define what that looks like. Once success is defined, the Lodge then needs to communicate a plan to get there. The brethren of a Lodge need to share their thoughts. The conversation needs to be a dialogue, not a monologue. The lack of communication will kill an organization and a Lodge is no different from any other.

There are other themes that show up in the book.

  • The need to have a strong core of officers,
  • The importance for a planned calendar of events.
  • The need for a good secretary.

That’s the list I took away as the top ones to look at in my own Lodge.

While the book relies heavily on the 21st District in Ohio the material is valuable to any Lodge and I would recommend picking up a copy for your library. The book is a quick read. You’ll only need an afternoon or two to read it. Of course, it’s simple to read it, it’s another matter to pick up the tools, get to work, and set your stone.

Hitting the books and getting back to reading

By | May 3, 2016

Getting back to reading with ClaudyI’ve written in the past about the simple fact that as members of Freemasonry we should spend time educating ourselves and one of the best ways to do that is by reading.

I’ll be the first to admit it, I spend a lot of hours in front of a computer screen, it’s part of my job. I will also freely admit that I spend a lot of hours that aren’t work related in front of it. There always seems to be a project that needs to be worked on, a paper that needs to be written, or a blog post that needs to get finished.

So this week I decided to take a break from all my online reading, and there are a lot of great sites that discuss Freemasonry out there, and hit the books. You remember those things right? I used to spend a minimum of an hour a day reading offline, a lot of it was fiction but as my collection of books on Freemasonry has grown I thought it was time to get back to that time honored tradition of shutting of the screen and read.

I have a number of books and opted to start with a book from Carl Claudy, in particular his Introduction to Freemason Vol I – Entered Apprentice. I have to be honest, I had picked up all three of the books in the series some time ago and while they are within easy reach I haven’t read them. In fact I have a number of books like that on my shelf, books I’ve partially read (with the bookmarks still in them), and those that I haven’t started yet but picked up because I thought they would make a good addition to my collection.

After the last couple of evenings splitting time between Claudy and my ritual, I have to say I didn’t realize just how much I missed reading from a book and I’ve decided to make it a daily habit once again, 20-30 minutes at a minimum each night with a book. I plan on sharing what I’m reading and maybe a thought or two about the books I’m working through or finishing along the way – look for those in a separate set of posts going forward.

So, what are you reading? Any suggestions for where I should go after finishing Claudy’s Introduction to Freemasonry?

Using Google Goals to help learn Ritual

By | April 26, 2016

open-book-ritual-goalsNo, we’re not taking a left turn here, but I thought it was time to start looking at digital tools that could be used to help us as Freemasons. There are plenty of them out there but I thought I would start with one that I think has a lot of uses, Google’s new goals feature. It was recently added to their calendar app (both Android and iOS) and I thought a great goal would be to learn more of the ritual.

The trick to learning ritual, or at least one of them, is repetition and or course regular practice. I think I most of us will can come up with any number of reasons why we can’t work on memorizing our ritual so a tool that can help us stay “on track” it always welcome. What the goal feature of Google Calendar does is it allows us to set a goal, how often we want to work on it and for how long.

The trick here is to set a goal that is concrete and not nebulous or never ending. In the case of the ritual, stating that you want to “memorize the ritual,” just won’t work, unless you’re planning to memorize the entirety of it. What I would recommend, and what I’ve setup, is to work on a specific section, say a history, or a charge, or lecture, and then make memorizing that your goal.

Once you’ve selected the piece of ritual you’re going to work on you next need to figure out how much time to spend on it and how often. This is something that varies a lot between individuals but for myself I find working in 15-20 minute chunks works well – I can go longer but I’m not sure if there’s any benefit to longer sessions (unless of course what you’re working on takes longer than 20 minutes to present). I’m still experimenting on how often to work on this, right now I’m set up for three times a week but will likely increase it once it becomes more habit than goal.

Instead of walking you through the actual steps for setting up your goal, I’ll suggest that you jump over to the article on Google’s official blog which will walk you through it and give you some other ideas on how you can use the goal feature.

Give it a try and share your experience, I’d be interested to know how it works out for you.